Charlotte Perriand (1903 - 1999) is regarded as one of the leading figures of the modern design movement.
Born in 1903 in France to a tailor and an haute couture seamstress, Perriand attended Ecole de l'Union Centrale de Arts Decoratifs where she studied furniture design. On completing her studies, Perriand approached Le Corbusier and applied to work at his studio, but was famously rejected with the comment, "We don't embroider cushions here."
Le Corbusier was, however, sufficiently impressed by a display of tubular steel furniture and a spectacular bar made of aluminium, glass and chrome that Perriand presented at the the Salon d'Automne the following year. Perriand was offered a position in the studio run by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, with responsibility for leading the interior design team and promoting the practice's work through exhibitions.
Perriand’s work embodied Le Corbusier’s belief in furniture which serves as "extensions of our limbs and adapted to human functions that are: Type-needs, type-functions, therefore type-objects and type-furniture." The B301 sling back chair, LC2 Grand Comfort, and B306 Chaise Longue are key examples of Perriand’s interpretation of her employer’s pronouncements on furnishing.
Her work extended to interior design projects such as the 1929 Salon d’Automne, Salvation Army Headquarters in Paris and Pavilion Suisse student lodging at Cité Universitaire.
Perriand left Le Corbusier’s studio in 1937 to work on a ski resort in Savoie and a stand for the 1937 Paris Exhibition. In 1940 she travelled to Japan to serve as an industrial design export for the Japanese government. Upon Japan entering WWII Perriand found her return voyage back to France blocked by naval blockades and she was forced to remain in Vietnam until the end of the conflict.
Following her time in Asia, Perriand’s designs began to show influence of her time spent there, notably in the Vietnamese woodworking and weaving techniques and the Japanese use of natural materials and usage of screens as a method to divide spaces.
Back in France, Perriand again collaborated with Fernand Leger and Le Corbusier on various projects as well as establishing a lifelong working relationship with Jean Prouve.
Frequently associated with the works of Le Corbusier, Perriand’s designs had immense influence within the discipline of furniture making. Regarded among the most influential women of 20th century designers, Charlotte Perriand’s works continue to stand among the lasting classics of the modern movement.
View Charlotte Perriand's obituary.